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Comments about the soundtrack for Peter Pan (James Newton Howard)

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Way too harsh!
• Posted by: Andrew Blake   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Thursday, February 23, 2017, at 9:37 p.m.
• IP Address:
• Now Playing: 'Ice Dance' by Danny Elfman

First off, I like how in-depth your review is, although I must admit I do not agree with all of your points.

It is clear that certain parts of Howard's score for 'Peter Pan' have been influenced by 'Hook' from John Williams (particularly Howard's 'Flying' from Peter Pan, there are some very clear influences there from 'Flight To Neverland' by Williams) but I think it is unfair to compare the two scores entirely, James Newton Howard is entitled to his own adaptation of magical music without it being constantly compared to a John Williams OST (although I must admit he does compose some incredibly good magical music!)

As for your statement about Howard's soundtrack "lacking memorable personality", I personally believe this is quite unjustified. Yes not all of the tracks are entirely "memorable", but I honestly can't remember the last soundtrack that I listened to where I could remember all of the themes after just one or two run throughs.
From 'Peter Pan' I must say that the tracks 'Fairy Dance' and 'Flying' are two in particular that I found incredibly memorable after listening to just once, also I found they fitted the scenes in which they were assigned to perfectly.

'Fairy Dance' encapsulated the magical feeling perfectly (as good as John Williams could have done!) and also upheld that 'danceable' waltz feeling that was so necessary for the scene it was accompanying. It was orchestrated beautifully, when the music needed to swell to managed it without becoming too heavy, when it needed to be subtle it also achieved that without disappearing out of all existence. The harmony from the string section is constantly being controlled with dynamics, this gives the piece a great feeling of 'swell & release' but also stops the music from becoming too 'thick' and 'heavy'.

'Flying' has that fantastic energy which is created from that constant ostinato throughout the majority of the piece. Here is where there are many similarities between this score and 'Hook' by John Williams, there is a constant energy to 'Flight to Neverland' by Williams which can certainly be heard throughout 'Flying' by Howard too.

I honestly believe these tracks "explode with the kind of sustained magic necessary", as you said they do not, these two pieces in particular along with many other tracks throughout the film. These two pieces for me, personify 'Magic'.

And as for the use of a children's choir (mainly heard in 'Fairy Dance') well what could be more appropriate? we are talking about a flying BOY who flies CHILDREN away to Neverland to join the Lost BOYS! it added an innocence which could not have been achieved by any adult choir, also come on, it is 'Peter Pan', a fairytale!

Overall I believe this soundtrack explodes with magic that would be befitting of any other film in this genre, such as Harry Potter, Narnia etc. It is filled with memorable themes which not only stick in the mind but also befit the scene to which they were set to accompany.

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